Links

From the Economist:  “The Disposable Academic”.  Think twice before going for that PhD!  Similar research has suggested there is an overproduction of political science PhDs.
 
Business Insider has links to the “most shocking” stories of 2011.  Especially surprising is “the economics of killing someone” in China.
 
 

Opportunity for undergraduates to get published!

From: Columbia University’s Journal of Politics & Society

Want an opportunity to GET YOUR RESEARCH IN BARNES & NOBLE AND ON EBSCOHOST?

Columbia University’s Journal of Politics & Society, published by the Helvidius Group, invites you to submit your class papers and theses for consideration for our Spring 2012 edition. The Editorial Board is seeking submissions from UNDERGRADUATES (class of 2011 or later) in colleges and universities nationwide. Individuals who graduated in the Spring of 2011 may submit work they completed as undergraduates.

The deadline for the Spring 2012 Journal is January 6th, 2012.

In 2007, the Journal became the first commercially distributed undergraduate periodical in the nation. The 2012 Spring edition will be distributed among academics worldwide and sold in Barnes & Noble bookstores.

In addition, the Journal of Politics & Society will award the Peter and Katherine Tomassi Prize of $250 to the author of the best article, as judged by the Editorial Board in conjunction with faculty at Columbia University.

The Journal of Politics & Society is seeking original, creative, and rigorous articles including, but not limited to:
- Research on current economic, political, and sociological phenomena;

- Normative scholarship analyzing important theories on political philosophies.

Students from ALL SOCIAL SCIENCE DISCIPLINES are encouraged to submit their work.
There is no absolute length requirement, but published articles are typically originally 20­50 pages in length (double-spaced). Papers selected for publication undergo an intensive peer review and editing process, and work previously written for classroom or individual use is welcomed.

Please send all general inquiries and manuscripts to: helvidius@columbia.edu

For submissions, please use Microsoft Word (.doc) format and include “[2012 Spring Submission]” in the subject field of your email.

For further details, please visit us at: www.helvidius.org

Thank you and good luck!

The 22nd Editorial Board
The Helvidius Group

@ Wes: 98 Students Present Data Analysis, Statistical Research

Our Quantitative Analysis Center has been a win-win for faculty and students. The core course is interdisciplinary and the results of that course are great:

98 Students Present Data Analysis, Statistical Research.

The past fall’s research and other professional activities

The bad news is that I am still finishing my book manuscript. (I had hoped to be done by now!).

The good news is that I have gotten a fair amount of writing and research done. For the past several years or so, there have been two prongs to my research agenda: (1) Africa’s role in global economic governance and (2) the roles emerging powers such as China are playing in Africa. So what have I been up to?

  1. Africa’s role in global economic governance.
    • In the process of finishing my book manuscript. And I hope to do this over break.
    • Working with my research assistant Ivan Stoitzev (see previous post on teaching) to collect and analyze data on participation in international organizations more generally. Ivan has been working for me since last summer, tediously coding attendance and doing content analysis on meeting minutes (using Atlas.ti) and some preliminary analysis. The goal is to combine this with previous work I have done and present the findings in the spring at ISA.
  2. Emerging powers in Africa
    • Roselyn Hsueh (Temple) and I presented a paper we wrote for this fall’s African Studies Association conference. Here is the abstract:
      • In recent years, Chinese telecommunications companies, with the assistance of Chinese financial institutions and diplomatic backing, have successfully secured contracts to build infrastructure and wire Africa for the 21st century. The practical implications for economic development are important. But also important are the theoretical implications: what, for instance, is the relevance of such South-South linkages for how we think about globalization and the state? Our paper begins by considering China’s broader foreign economic policy agenda in Africa. What role does this play in the headway that Chinese telecommunications companies have made across African markets? What does this mean for market players from other countries (both African and non-African)? Importantly, what impact does China’s growing presence have on the relationship between state-building and market-building in traditionally weak states across the continent? To answer these questions, we take our study to the sector-level to investigate the growing presence of Chinese telecommunications equipment makers and service providers in Africa’s telecommunication markets.

Under the category of other professional activities I would have to mention my continuing role as head of the African Studies Cluster at Wesleyan. We are in the process of organizing an event on the “North Africa Spring”, scheduled for March 2nd. I have also been excited to see the activities the undergraduate students have been involved in. This spring our students have a fantastic development conference and a cultural event called “Afroganza” (sponsored by the African Students’ Association) in the planning. This past fall there was a nice event on the Congo Crisis.

TheAfrican Politics Conference Group continues to grow and evolve. I just finished editing and producing our most recent newsletter (available here).

Finally, I made a presentation several weeks ago to Wesleyan’s Academic Technology Roundtable on my use of Sente as a reference manager for Mac and iPad. Definitely a cool tool and I recommend others take a look at it (so long as you already have a Mac!).

The past fall’s teaching

I’m not yet done grading but her are some of the highlights from this past fall’s teaching and advising:

  1. Just finished teaching two courses, Africa in World Politics and Introduction to International Relations.
    • My students in my IR course wrote some fantastic research and policy papers. One of the stronger policy papers examined US food aid policy options vis-a-vis North Korea. Reviewing many of the obstacles and some of the bad experiences of the past, she suggests that the best idea out there might be to provide information and technology that is targeted for improving food production. These are resources that are not
    • I am still reading through my Africa in World Politics research papers, so I’ll just mention some of the interesting questions they are asking:
      • How has the international Islamic community influenced the development of Islamic law in northern Nigeria?
      • How have African diplomats and ambassadors been treated by Western nations, and how is that treatment related to the broader relationships and political dynamics between African and Western states?
      • How did colonialism differentially impact political cultures in Libya and Egypt?
      • How did the DRC’s colonial legacy contribute or lead to developmental problems in the DRC in the last two decades?
  2. I have been advising several independent student research projects. Two of them are long-term honors theses and are not yet finished. A third was a semester-long independent project that arguably should have been a full senior thesis.
    • Thesis One’s Question: “Why despite the prevalence of microfinance in Uganda, do moneylenders continue to exist?” This student is basing much of her research on original fieldwork she did in Uganda with IPA.
    • Thesis Two: “How does the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) impact effective leadership in Umlazi high schools?”. Once again, this student is basing her research on original fieldwork she carried out in South Africa, this time on her own.
    • An here is an excerpt from the introduction of the 86-page semester-long project (which also relied on in-depth interviews with key informants that the student carried out last summer and spring): “ This paper will identify the process by which software intended to promote security becomes a tool of repression. It will answer the question: what are the primary factors that promote government adoption of political content filtering at a national level? In order to answer this question, I will focus on three cases from a single region, the Middle East and North Africa, that have a history of restrictive press laws, but have chosen to apply different degrees of political filtering. Iran exhibits substantial filtering, Jordan filters selectively, and Egypt has no evidence of filtering. In comparison, these cases demonstrate that changes in filtering are motivated by two main factors: Internet proliferation and/or online communication threatening to political authority. However, filtering can only occur if a government has access to filtering software and this software can be integrated into the network. Democratic institutions, international agreements, and circumvention efforts, moderate the costs and benefits of filtering, while other tools, such as Internet surveillance and cyber attacks provide less costly alternatives.”
  3. Finally, my research assistant, Ivan Stoitzev, has been making we look lazy with his progress on our study of the determinants of participation in international organizations. He has been busy coding participation in terms of attendance and in terms of mentions in meeting minutes. He has also done a great job with some preliminary analysis of the data.

So, after yet another semester at Wesleyan, I must say I am still very impressed with these students!